Volunteers' Week - Thank You Bernard Dobson

Bernard Dobson learnt a lot about Catherine McAuley, Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, during his many years as a teacher and then as Principal at Mount Lilydale Mercy College. He discovered that Catherine was a woman who shared what she had with those in need. Initially, she gave of her time and a little money. However, after she inherited a fortune, she built a large house in the wealthy area of Dublin in 1827 and opened it up to shelter, train and educate poor women and girls. Bernard also discovered that Catherine’s work continues today through McAuley Community Services for Women and it’s a story he wants to share with young people.

Bernard is helping to develop material on Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy for lesson plans that can be used in Catholic (and eventually Independent and Government Schools) on the ongoing work of McAuley Community Services for Women.

 “This is a wonderful and continuing story that I believe will inspire and motivate young people. Catherine was a woman who saw a need to support and protect homeless and uneducated women and girls and acted to address this need in a unique way for her time,” Bernard said.

Bernard said volunteering is a contemporary word, but something people have been doing for a long time, particularly the women who helped Catherine McAuley in the early days.

“Initially Catherine was not a member of a religious congregation but was a single women who invited other women to assist in her work at the House of Mercy.Many people in today’s society could follow her lead and spend a few hours of their time each week or month, even for a short period of time working to help make someone’s life better,” Bernard said.

Bernard was drawn to McAuley Community Services for Women after his ‘eyes were opened to the extent of violence to women’ and the way that the organisation responds in the spirit of Catherine McAuley.

“McAuley Community Services for Women does not ask questions, but just welcomes those in need. It provides shelter and training as well as ongoing support and encouragement as Catherine did.”

“Catherine exposed the rich in Dublin to the existence of the poor. The poor became visible,” he said. Bernard hopes, that through his work in helping develop material for schools, he will make visible the stories of women and children in Victoria who need support.